Posts tagged ‘journalism’

Friday, January 13, 2023

China’s New Normal is the Old Decadent Normal

At some point during the past fourteen years of blogging, I began to feel bored by Chinese press reviews. They weren’t funny anymore,  or that’s how I felt about them anyway. They had been comical until spring 2012, if I trace the involuntary jokes back correctly, and then lost their luster.
But give a secretary-general of the Communist Party of China a lifetime job, and the fun will be back. A man with powers only held by Mao Zedong (and certain emperors) before him reopens the pandora box of ingratiation, sycophancy and loss of touch with reality that have made China great.

Xi speaking, cadres taking notes - CCTV evening news on July 24, 2013.

Xi speaking, cadres taking notes – CCTV evening news on July 24, 2013.

Here’s Xi Jinping’s vision of shared future, and its place in history:

Thousands of years ago, China envisaged a world where people would live in perfect harmony and be as dear to one another as family. Today, President Xi Jinping has given the world such a vision in the concept of a community with a shared future for mankind.

Don’t get me wrong: the “One-Belt-one-Road” initiative has been a fairly clever approach to foreign relations. Even cold warriors like yours truly never hesitate to learn from fascists like Xi when they get something right. In the case I remember, in April 2015, on a state visit, it was just the right bit of ingratiation and – calculated, I suppose – loss of reality. (It was just Pakistan, and there was therefore no danger that the great helmsman would be overegging it. The loss of reality was Pakistan’s problem, not Xi’s.)
But it’s a different story for China when Xi’s subjects sing the praise of their overlord. Extreme flattery is where madness sets out from, and loss of reality is how it continues. Or, in the words of Jacques Ellul, a French sociologist and theologican (1912 – 1994)*),

In an article in Pravda in May 1957, the Chinese writer Mao Dun wrote that the ancient poets of China used the following words to express the striving of the people toward a better life:
“The flowers perfume the air, the moon shines, man has a long life.” And he added: “Allow me to give a new explanation of these poetic terms. The flowers perfume the air — this means that the flowers of the art of socialist realism are incomparably beautiful. The moon shines — this means that the sputnik has opened a new era in the conquest of space. Man has a long life — this means that the great Soviet Union will live tens and tens of thousands of years.”

Ellul’s comment:

When one reads this once, one smiles. If one reads it a thousand times, and no longer reads anything else, one must undergo a change. And we must reflect on the transformation of perspective already suffered by a whole society in which texts like this (published by the thousands ) can be distributed and taken seriously not only by the authorities but by the intellectuals. This complete change of perspective of the Weltanschauung is the primary totalitarian element of propaganda.

One might object that this isn’t funny at all. I can see that point, and I can even feel a bit of the pain myself. But I also believe that the most comical stories grow in the most terrifying gardens. Chinese propaganda is making fun of itself  again – not because of a sense of self-irony (there’s nothing like that), but because Chinese public life has become living satire again.
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Notes

*)    Jacques Ellul: “Propaganda – the Formation of  Men’s Attitudes”, New York, 1968, 1973

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Sunday, July 24, 2022

Headlines: Guanchazhe, Shanghai, July 24

20220224_guanchazhe_press_review

Guanchazhe, headlines at 07:30 UTC

(1)     Actual Guanchazhe article there. Wikipedia has a useful article in English on Wentian space laboratory cabin module
(2)     Link
(3)     It’s more of a rant (you wouldn’t need academics for that, but it probably looks more authoratitve this way).
The article may contain some news for you however if you believe that Western sanctions against Russia are happily supported (or admired) everywhere else in the world
Monday, April 18, 2022

Cute Pandas and Lovely Tanks – CRI and CGTN cover Russia’s War in Ukraine

CRI Russian / CGTN Russian war coverage

How is our motherland doing, comrades?
CRI Russian / CGTN Russian war coverage

I don’t speak Russian, but it seems that China Radio International’s (CRI) coverage leaves nothing to be desired when you want to be kept up to date with your country’s war in Ukraine (without too much disturbing news, I suppose). The first 25 minutes of CRI’s Russian program at 17:00 UTC on Sunday were all about Donbas, with a CGTN correspondent reporting from there.

CRI might have dispatched its own correspondents a few years ago, when the station was actually an organization in its own right, and quite a fiefdom at that. CRI’s then director, Wang Gengnian, even delivered his own annual new-year address.

Some adjustments for synergy were called for, and the central committee delivered, early in 2018, by amalgamating CRI, CPBS (domestic radio) and television into a “Central Radio and Television Network” (中央广播电视总台).   Some three years later, many CRI language broadcasts on shortwave were replaced by mere music loops or endless repetitions of always-the-same cultural programs.

Taiwan’s government appeared to have similar plans for Radio Taiwan International (RTI) – not to take them off the airwaves, but to create an tri-medial organization, integrating RTI, Taiwan’s national newsagency CNA, and public television. Instead, RTI got a new director-general, and its Spanish, French and Korean services returned to shortwave from a mere online existence.

Now, questions are occasionally asked which plan for RTI was better – the one devised in 2018 or the one actually implemented in 2019 and onward. In my view, starting an international television channel on the one hand as is done with “Taiwan+” and keeping RTI as a station focused on audiences in different languages looks like a comparatively wise choice.

For one, RTI might provide a pool of foreign-language speakers for television if need be. Also, if I go by my own fondness for radio, “Taiwan+” isn’t for me, and never will be. In fact, it’s nice to be spoken to in my first language by RTI’s German department.

But above all, developments at Radio Japan and CRI aren’t looking really promising. At Radio Japan, English is only broadcast on shortwave three times a day, and as for the news, that’s only a soundtrack from NHK’s global  English-language television channel. (You won’t even know who’s speaking at times, because obviously, you are missing out on the subtitles.) And while I don’t know what they are talking about in Russian on China’s foreign media, I seem to notice that there is a similar problem with the CGTN correspondent’s contributions that are also used by CRI, i. e. by “Central Radio and Television Network” foreign-radio channel. The correspondent, Kirill Volkov, seems to interview a number of people for his video productions, but as a listener, you can only guess who he is talking to.

It is easy to think that CRI’s German service has lost some of its (not too numerous anyway) German listeners after leaving shortwave, along with many other CRI language services. The German editorial department’s current trimedial attempts at agitating their listeners in China’s favor may be good for a laugh every now and then, but contrary to CRI’s radio productions in the past, these days’ online content is useless.

20220130_dreckskerle_20220126

“Some US politicians behave more and more like
dirty swines!” -CRI German’s
“sharp commentary” online, January 2022

In that regard, one has to wonder why RTI has recently been busy with grandstanding of this kind. Reportedly, what really happened is that the same half-hour Russian program in Russian already in existence for Europe has been rebroadcast for an additional 30-minutes time slot on another frequency.

Stunts like the above seem to suggest that RTI’s directors are worried that the government might cut RTI’s budget.

That shouldn’t happen. If Taiwan’s government wants to raise its country’s “international visibility”, it can’t do without RTI, and it can’t do without shortwave. At least, Taipei better wait how “Taiwan+” develops before making cuts to the foreign-radio budget.

Sunday, January 9, 2022

Press Review: Xi Jinping’s New Year’s Speech comforts the Bereaved


Guanchazhe newsitems on home page today (Sunday):

1) Tianjin is considerate — netizens, inasfar as their comments aren’t removed – praise the municipal authorities, including the Tianjin Municipal Party Committee Propaganda Department, for timely information,
2) a woman whose brother lost his life in military service (in East Turkestan) got wet eyes when listening to Xi Jinping’s new year’s speech (清澈的爱、只为中国), and
3) an academic currently in America who believes it’s in the Chinese genes to help each other.

Guanchazhe online, Shanghai, Jan 9, 2022

Guanchazhe online, Shanghai, Jan 9, 2022

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Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Xi Jinping’s “Inspiring New Year Address” in the Tibetan Media

The following is a translation of a Chinese-language piece by “Tibet Daily”, the CPC’s party organ published in Tibet. It was also broadcast by PBS Tibet, even as late as on January 3.

Links within blockquotes added during translation.

The 2019 enthusiasm routine (Google search result)

The 2019 enthusiasm routine (Google search result)

Keep in mind what the leadership entrusted you with. Put into practice the originally intended mission. — Chairman Xi Jinping’s new year’s message evokes wide-spread strong reactions among cadres and masses

牢记领袖嘱托 践行初心使命——习近平主席新年贺词在西藏广大干部群众中引发强烈反响

Published on Jan 2, 2022, 09:50:57. Source: Tibet Daily. Authors: Zhang Meng/Shi Jinru/Zhou Tingting

发布时间:2022-01-02 09:50:57来源:西藏日报 作者:张猛 史金茹 周婷婷

“What we experiencing in these flying times is an indomitable and prospering China. You find people here who inspire affection and respect, every day sees new development, and a cause passed on through the generations.” Once Chairman Xi Jinping’s new year’s eve greeting had been published on New Year’s Eve, it immediately evoked enthusiastic reactions among the broad cadreship and the masses. Everyone, one after another, said that Chairman Xi Jinping’s speech had been heartwarming and activating. In the new year, they will unite even more closely around the Party’s Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at the core, keep in mind what the leadership entrusted them with, put into practice the originally intended mission, struggle for the construction of a united, well-off, civilized, harmonious and beautiful socialist and modern Tibet, so as to welcome the victorious 20th CPC National Congress with exceptional achievements.

“在飞逝的时光里,我们看到的、感悟到的中国,是一个坚韧不拔、欣欣向荣的中国。这里有可亲可敬的人民,有日新月异的发展,有赓续传承的事业。”新年前夕,习近平主席的新年贺词一经发表,立即在我区广大干部群众中引发热烈反响。大家纷纷表示,习近平主席的话语温暖人心、催人奋进。在新的一年里将更加紧密地团结在以习近平同志为核心的党中央周围,牢记领袖嘱托、践行初心使命,为建设团结富裕文明和谐美丽的社会主义现代化新西藏而努力奋斗,以优异成绩迎接党的二十大胜利召开。

“2021 was a special year, with the 100th anniversary of the CPC’s foundation. It was also the second year for me as a teacher.” After graduating from Shaanxi Normal University, “post-95er”1 Huang Jiapei came to Linzhi City 2nd Primary School as a music teacher. He says: “Xi Jinping mentioned that we must not forget the originally intended mission, so that it will carry us through2. We can only succeed with an energetic mind and vigoroous action, by being sincere and conscientious. That’s the only way for us not to betray history, not to betray the era, and not to betray the people. As an educational worker who is both someone who “pursues his dream” and someone who pursues his dream by helping children, I deeply feel the responsibility I’ve taken. In the future, I will work with an energetic mind and vigorous action, sincerely and conscientiously, continuously improve myself, be dedicated and devoted to my work, to be someone who contributes to a beautiful and happy Linzhi and who educates ever more outstanding heirs of socialism.”

“2021年是特殊的一年,是中国共产党成立100周年,也是我正式成为一名老师的第二个年头。”从陕西师范大学毕业就来到林芝市第二小学担任音乐老师的“95后”黄嘉佩说,“习近平主席在新年贺词中提到,不忘初心,方得始终。我们唯有踔厉奋发、笃行不怠,方能不负历史、不负时代、不负人民。作为一名教育工作者,我既是一名‘追梦人’,也是助力孩子们追梦的人,深感肩负重任。未来,我将踔厉奋发、笃行不怠,不断提升自己,敬业奉献,为建设美丽幸福林芝贡献力量,努力培养更多优秀的社会主义接班人。”

“Chairman Xi Jinping said in his New Year’s Eve greeting that comprehensive moderate prosperity and casting off poverty is what the party owes the people. It is also a contribution to the world. To let everyone lead a better life, we can’t be satisfied with the successes we see so far. We still have a long road to go.” Huang Jiabin, first secretary at the Linzhi City rural task force at Beibeng Township‘s Gelin Village says: “To keep up ambition and wisdom is vital to prevent large-scale relapse into poverty. We will combine our advantages in a solid and practical way and do our utmost to help Gelin Village’s development.”

“习近平主席在新年贺词中提到,全面小康、摆脱贫困是我们党给人民的交代,也是对世界的贡献。让大家过上更好生活,我们不能满足于眼前的成绩,还有很长的路要走。”林芝市公安局驻墨脱县背崩乡格林村第一书记、驻村工作队队长黄家斌表示,“扶志扶智是防止规模性返贫及助力乡村振兴的关键因素,接下来他将结合自身优势,扎扎实实、尽心尽力为格林村发展添砖加瓦。”

“Chairman Xi Jinping’s New Year’s Eve message is full of power, inspiring the will of the people, and strengthening our confidence and determination to go forward.” Zhao Wei of a science popularization unit with Tibet Autonomous Region Science and Technology Association says: “During the past year, we have operated mobile science and technology shops in Shigatse, Naqu, Lhasa, Shannan and in other places. The science and technology truck gives basic rural farmers and shephard masses as well as young people an opportunity to experience the fascination of science in a nearby place, providing them with scientific knowledge to help citizens to improve their scientific qualities. Although some villages and townships are far above sea-level and have an adverse climate, we feel that it’s worth our efforts and our hard work when we see the curiousity and happiness in the faces of the masses and the children as they experience the basics of science. We are reviewing the past year and we are looking to the future. In the new year, we will take root in Tibet even more firmly, we won’t betray the era’s determination, we will dauntlessly advance, bravely climb the summits and constantly make new contributions to science and technology popularization in the new era’s Tibet.”

“习近平主席的新年贺词充满力量,激荡人心,坚定了我们砥砺前行的信心与决心。”西藏自治区科学技术协会科普工作队赵伟说,“过去一年,我们在日喀则、那曲、拉萨、山南等地开展流动科技馆、科普大篷车巡展工作,为基层农牧民群众和青少年送去近距离体验科学魅力的机会,为他们送去科学知识,助力公民科学素质提升。虽然有些乡镇海拔高、气候恶劣,可是,每当看到群众和孩子们充满好奇的眼神,以及动手体验科学原理时脸上洋溢着快乐的表情时,就觉得所有的艰苦与付出都是值得的。回顾过去,展望未来。新的一年里,我将更加坚定扎根西藏、不负时代的决心,奋勇向前,勇攀高峰,不断为新时代西藏科普工作作出新的贡献。”

“As we entered the new year, Chairman Xi Jinping’s New Year’s Eve address was most heartwarming. I felt even more inspired after listening to it. Here at Dekang Community, the residents also experienced a boost in their morale, being delighted and excited.” Song Yahang, resident work team member in Dekang Community, Lhorong County in Chamdo City, says: “In a blink of an eye, almost an entire year’s stay in Dekang Community passed by for me. Time and again I have experienced the vivid struggle of the residents by the things I have seen and heard as they were unearthed. I think they are models for the whole Dekang Community. It takes exactly hard-working construction workers like them to make Dekang Community’s future even better.” Song Yahang says that in the next step, it is planned to actively carry out activities to promote investment in the community, to let residents and business people filled with ideas, with the ability and willingness to work, take along those who want to help, to work hard to create a brand-new Dekang Community.

“跨年夜,习近平主席的新年贺词最暖心,聆听之后倍感振奋。我们德康社区居民也备受鼓舞,欢喜雀跃。”昌都市洛隆县德康社区驻村工作队队员宋亚航说,“一转眼,我到德康社区驻村将近一年,我一次次把自己所看到的、听到的、经历过的一个个鲜活的居民奋斗史挖掘出来,我觉得他们是整个德康社区的榜样。正是有了像他们这样勤奋努力的建设者,德康社区的未来和明天才会更加美好。”宋亚航表示,下一步,打算通过优惠的政策积极开展招商引资活动,让真正有想法、能干事、想干事的居民和商人引进社区,实现一人带动一帮人,以点带面的发展模式,为营造一个崭新的德康社区而努力奋斗。

Editor in charge: Li Xia

责任编辑:李霞


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Notes

1 born after 1995
2 While the CPC has put a comprehensive claim on being “the faithful inheritor and advocate of the outstanding traditional Chinese culture” rather recently, traditional sayings have always been part of CPC speech, though probably with varying emphasis through the decades. 不忘初心,方得始终 originally refers to Buddhism – the idea that the original intention is inseparable from the final fruit if the practice continues obliviously (according to “People’s Daily”, anyway).

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Thursday, October 28, 2021

Xi Jinping in the Evening News

If you wonder why a discussion of a book about Xi Jinping in Germany was cancelled by the relevant Confucius Institutes, here’s the most likely answer: the book simply didn’t mention Xi frequently enough.
Learn from Chinese televion. The following are the first seven headlines (out of a total of 18) from Tuesday’s main evening news in China.

Already full of confidence: CCTV News anchor Kang Hui

Already full of confidence:
CCTV News anchor Kang Hui

Main Link: CCTV Network News – “Xi Jinping visits National “13th-Five-Year-Plan” Technical Innovation Achievements Exhibition, emphasizes …”

习近平在参观国家“十三五”科技创新成就展时强调 坚定创新自信紧抓创新机遇 加快实现高水平科技自立自强 Xi Jinping visits National “13th-Five-Year-Plan” Technical Innovation Achievements Exhibition, emphasizes need to staunchly innovate and confidently grasp innovation opportunities, and to accelerate the implementation of self reliance in high-level science and technology
习近平对全军装备工作会议作出重要指示强调 全面开创武器装备建设新局面 为实现建军一百年奋斗目标作出积极贡献 Xi Jinping gives the all-army equipment conference important instructions, emphasizing the need for active contributions in the new situation to a comprehensive start into the building of weapons and equipment, to reach the [second]*) two-centenary goal
习近平致信祝贺人民出版社成立100周年强调 赓续红色血脉为推动社会主义文化繁荣发展 建设社会主义文化强国作出新的更大的贡献 Xi Jinping sends a letter to People’s Publishing House at its 100th founding anniversary, emphasizing that continuation of the red blood will drive the development of socialist culture and prosperity, and make new and still greater contributions to the building of a socialist and culturally strong country.
习近平致电祝贺米尔济约耶夫当选乌兹别克斯坦总统 Xi Jinping sends telegram to Shavkat Mirziyoyev to congratulate him on his election as president
习近平同巴基斯坦总理通电话 Xi Jinping has a telephone conversation with Pakistan’s president
习近平同巴布亚新几内亚总理通电话 Xi Jinping has a telephone conversation with Papua New Guinea’s prime minister
携手实现世界永续和平发展——习近平主席在中华人民共和国恢复联合国合法席位50周年纪念会议上的重要讲话引发与会中外人士热烈反响 Joining hands to achieve global sustainable peaceful development – Chairman Xi Jinping’s important speech on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the restoration of China’s legitimate seat at the United Nations meets with enthusiastic reactions among Chinese and foreign public figures

If this interests you, maybe that (24 hours later) interets you, too – CCTV News Network, Wed, Oct 27:

Xi Jinping has telephone conversation with French president / Xi Jinping has telephone conversation with Uzbek president / Xi Jinping has telephone call with president of Equatorial Guinea / Xi Jinping’s keynote speech, “Staying Connected with the World and Abreast with the Times And Making Big Strides on the Path of Sustainable Development”, held at the opening ceremony of the Second United Nations Global Sustainable Transport Conference, now published as a single-volume edition / Under “Xi Jinping’s ideological guidance of socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era”, organize the Winter Olympics well, ignite enthusiasm for winter sports, promote participation of three-hundred million people in winter sports / Secetary-general Xi Jinping’s congratulatory letter to China Media Group on the launch of the CCTV Olympic Channel and the start of its digital platform meets with enthusiastic response.
(Only the first five, out of a total of 21 items.)
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Note

*) I think that this must be the second “centenary goal”, because according to Xi, the first one has already been achieved.

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Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Guizhou Donkey: Make Yourself at Home

You can serve lousy food, provided that your guests aren’t used to anything better, or because you are their boss and they can’t choose. In either case, it will help when you serve that stuff in a cozy environment. Your guests can make themselves at home – mum cooks as badly as ever.

The same is true for “Huanqiu Shibao, the Chinese sister paper of the English-language “Global Times”. On July 21, they missed (probably sarcastically) a more innovative Western propaganda approach.

huanqiu_headline

“America draws allies into political manipulation”,
Huanqiu Shibao, July 21

Several academics, the paper said, had stated in interviews that the U.S. and their allies, after failed campaigns concerning Hong Kong, Taiwan, or human rights, had now come up with accusations that China was behind cyber attacks. That was the Guizhou donkey’s weak trick.

Here’s the story in English, according to the Chinese online encyclopedia “Baike Baidu”.

Once upon a time, there were no donkeys in Guizhou. Nobody knew what a donkey was. Some day, a man took a donkey to Guizhou. He left it at the foot of a mountain. A tiger in the mountains saw the donkey from afar, heard it braying, and thought: “where does this monster come from? It looks awesome, and I’ll better keep a distance1

Some time passed during which the tiger saw the donkey walk to and fro and bray once in a while. Now the tiger thought: “pretty big pet, I don’t know what it can do, but let me see!”

The tiger approached the donkey unnoticed and touched it. The donkey became angry: “why the hell do you touch me?” Then he kicked with his hooves and missed the tiger two or three times. That’s how the tiger realized: “this donkey*) can’t do anything but kick, he can’t do anything!”

So he opened his mouth to eat the donkey, but the terrified donkey shouted: “don’t get any closer, I can kick you!”

“Kicking people is all you can do,” laughed the tiger, “but I can eat people!” No sooner said than done.

That was turned into a proverb, describing how people manage with makeshift methods that aren’t special. In short: “the donkey’s skills are poor”!

In Chinese, that writes 黔驢技窮 (黔驴技穷, qiánlǘjìqióng), and qián, another word for Guizhou (maybe not exactly the same territory as what it is now), can also be found in a more classical version of the story (Chinese and English there).

So why does “Huanqiu Shibao” use this proverb?
a) “Huanqiu Shibao” skills are poor – they can’t do any better.
b) You mustn’t try to say anything better when it can be said in four characters.
c) It’s cozy (see introduction). No matter how stupid the message is, readers will remember Granny’s bedtime stories and find it trustworthy. They may even feel sort of tiger.


Not the way Granny told it – click picture for video

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Notes

*) That’s what the Baike story says – maybe the tiger has gotten to know the donkey’s name, because he’ll only eat what he knows
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Sunday, June 6, 2021

External Propaganda: Cai Mingzhao’s then, Xi Jinping’s now?

30th_politburo_study_session

Politburo’s 30th study session, Xinwen Lianbo, June 1, 2021

English-speaking Chinese media translate 传播 (chuánbō) as “communication” – as in this English-language rendition of a Xi speech on May 31, to the “30th collective study session of the CPC politburo. I don’t quite trust the translation, because there is a Chinese habit of making Chinese terms more palatable to a foreign audience by using not-quite-the-closest possible translation.

As a shortwave user, the most familiar translation to me would be propagation, which may stand for a process of information flow, “transmissions of impulses (or triggers) to influence the behavior of others” (传播就是某个人传递刺激以影响另一些人行为的过程), or “social information flows and the information of social information systems” (郭庆光定义传播是社会資訊的流动和社会資訊系统的运行). All that, and more, plus propaganda, I suppose.

So, the official Chinese translation for chuánbō would be communication. But China Copyright and Media, in an October 2013 translation of an article by Cai Mingzhao, director of the State Council Information Office’s Foreign Propaganda Office at the time, referred to chuánbō as dissemination. It’s a translation that leaves room for a lot of interpretation.

What strikes me when reading the China Copyright and Media translation of nearly eight years ago is its similarity with Xi’s speech of May 31. Back then, Cai Mingzhao, the State Council of Information Office’s external propaganda bureau at the time, discussed the future priorities in public diplomacy work in the light of Xi Jinping’s recent speech at the National Propaganda and Ideology Work Conference.

While Xi’s national propaganda conference speech in August 2013 had contained some referals to external propaganda, too, most of it had been about propaganda in general, and ideological work within China. In fact, I’m under the impression that in his May 31 speech, which focused exclusively on external propaganda, Xi borrowed heavily from Cai Mingzhao’s 2013 article.

You can contrast these two English renditions: one by China Daily on June 2, i. e. four days ago, reflecting Xi’s speech, and one by China Copyright and Media, in October 2013, translating Cai Mingzhao’s article.

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